Navy preps users for NMCI

Navy NMCI site

After experiencing early glitches moving users to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, Navy officials hope that training will help future users make a smooth transition to the Navy's enterprise network.

The Navy formed a transition team last fall to help commands switch from legacy systems to NMCI and to provide documents and resources to users. What has emerged, Navy officials said, is a six-month quasi-boot camp where individuals making the transition can learn what they need to know before the move actually takes place.

Navy Cmdr. Brion Tyler, who leads the transition team, said initial findings indicate that many Navy sites were unprepared for the transition to NMCI. "The customers didn't know what the requirements we had for them were and they lacked the resources to be able to determine that," he said.

Training consists of briefings, Web sites and information packets, but apparently not everyone is getting the training they need, according to end users. Some, who are scheduled to transition as early as this summer, have not heard from either EDS, the lead contractor on the $8.8 billion project, or from NMCI officials.

Navy officials have said that users need to take the initiative to educate themselves. "Successful cutover does require user interaction. NMCI does not just happen to us, we [users] need to play an active role in it," said Richard Opp, deputy director of enterprise operations for NMCI. Opp said users should visit EDS' NMCI Web site (www.nmci-isf.com) to download materials to prepare.

"This guide and Web section will assist end users in their transition to NMCI by providing them with preparation instructions. This step of preparation is not mandatory," he said. "We are hoping, however, that end users will take the initiative to utilize it on their own."

But some users say either they received no training or the training they did receive was insufficient. "It was standard Navy training — give them just what you think they need and not what they really need to do the job," said one NMCI user and engineer in Florida.

Tyler said the degree to which a future NMCI user is prepared depends largely on his or her own enterprise. "We want the customers to access this information," Tyler said. "If they can each take a half-day to peruse through the material, they will be very prepared."

Another user said his command has yet to receive any of the materials, even though he has been told that the transition will take place at the end of the summer or the beginning of fall.

"If these briefings do eventually occur, they will most definitely be helpful," said the user, who asked for anonymity. "Our end users are definitely apprehensive about NMCI, and if we were to get some user-digestible briefing material, it would help us in getting our many data calls answered and also convince our users to get their affairs in order — data storage locations, e-mail, applications, etc.

"I guess the bottom line is that more info needs to start filtering down to the field commands and prospective end users," he added.

Michelle Scheuerman, NMCI user awareness/training manager at EDS, said the end-user training "is a positive step in the cultural change management process. It demystifies the NMCI and provides the individual valuable knowledge of the system and its capabilities."

Capt. Chris Christopher, NMCI staff director, admitted the Navy underestimated the difficulty associated with rolling out the network, but said the transition team and training have made it easier.

"We did not do as good a job as we could have done," he said. "We...did not realize, as we should have, that this marked a major cultural change.

"Leadership," he said, "is probably the single most important factor in how [well] the transition works."

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NMCI briefing book

The Navy wants managers and end users to prepare themselves for the transition to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. Although some users claim inadequate preparation, the NMCI director's office says more than enough resources are available.

Some of those resources include:

* A briefing given to command chief information officers, information technology leaders and command leaders six months before the transition. The briefing includes a list of contacts, a master glossary of acronyms and a lengthy presentation on the network's ins and outs.

* A subsequent briefing takes place 60 to 90 days before the transition, again for the leaders and IT managers of a command.

* End users can download a series of "Ready," "Set" and "Go" guides and visit a special Web site about making the transition to NMCI. Neither is required, but both are available on EDS' NMCI Web site (www.nmci-isf.com).

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